The stories of mothers involved in car accidents while pregnant are numerous. In some situations, such incidents have tragic endings. In others, they bring long-term risk to the unborn child and the mother.
When Traumatic Accidents Occur
Recently, a 19-year-old woman named Kerriann Elders was involved in a car accident as the passenger in her friend’s vehicle. She was six months pregnant at the time of the accident and lost her unborn baby. Obviously, there is no way for Elders to replace that child, and the pain will be long lasting for both parents and the extended family.
For those situations where the child does not die, he or she could face ongoing and incurable medical ailments. In these situations, the damage to the child can occur from the mother being hit in the abdomen, being ejected from the vehicle, or even from the strain of the seat belt across the abdomen.
If you’ve been involved in any accident like this, to any degree, your first step should be to visit your medical care provider, most likely an emergency room for an exam. Do so even if you feel fine and have no visible signs of injury.
Each year, as many as 5,000 fetal deaths occur as a result of car accidents. Many more women face complications from such accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
What Complications May Occur from Car Accidents While Pregnant?
A variety of incidents can occur. Even minor accidents can cause a child to become at-risk for health or mental complications down the road. A few examples include the following:
- Placental Abruption
- In this condition, there is a separation of the placenta from the lining of the uterus. When severe placental abruption occurs, it can be fatal in about 15 percent of all cases, according to the American Pregnancy Association.
- Preterm Birth
- In some situations, a significant accident can cause the child to be born immediately. Preterm birth can occur any time a child is born prior to the 37th week of pregnancy. The Mayo Clinic says that both long-term and short-term consequences can occur. This includes breathing and heart problems and can lead to more complex factors such as brain hemorrhages. In the long term, these babies may develop cerebral palsy, impaired cognitive skills, chronic health complications, hearing and vision problems, and behavioral concerns. These are just some of the potential birth injuries that can occur.
Signs of Potential Concern
Many factors play a role in what type of outcome can occur if an unborn child is impacted during a car accident. If you’ve been in a car accident, even a mild fender bender, you should get in to see your doctor. It is important to do this especially in situations where you have outward symptoms including:
- Abdominal pain or discomfort
- Vaginal bleeding or discharge
- A painful need to urinate
- Severe headaches
- Changes in how frequently your baby moves
- Dizziness or a loss of consciousness at any time during or after the accident
- Fever development
- Swelling in the mother’s extremities
It is essential to consider that you may not have any symptoms of complications. Follow-up with your doctor about the proper course of action to take.
Should You Call Your Attorney After an Accident?
It is always advisable to call your attorney as soon as you’ve been involved in an accident, especially if you believe another person is to blame. Simply, in a situation like this, your priority is the baby’s well-being and your own. But, when you are okay, it is time to talk to an attorney to find out what your legal options are.
You may be able entitled to compensation if another driver caused your accident. This may help you with:
- Losses for the child
- Coverage for medical bills related to the incident
- Coverage for the baby’s preterm birth, if that occurs as a result of the incident
- Most other costs you incur as a result of the incident
- And, in some cases, pain and suffering
But, these are just initial losses you may face. They do not go far enough in some situations. For example, when there is an incident in which the unborn child is hurt, he or she may suffer oxygen deprivation. Even for a short time, this can cause a condition such as a brain injury or lead to mental or physical health complications of other forms. And, of course, it is devastating to the family.
What to Do Right Now
Kaire & Heffernan LLC provides comprehensive support and guidance to individuals suffering from the negligence of others. There is no way to know what the long-term impact of a car accident during childbirth will be to your child. However, you need to ensure you have financial protection to meet your child’s long-term needs.
Mark Kaire has been practicing law in Miami for nearly 30 years. He is dedicated to helping the injured people of Miami receive compensation. Mr. Kaire has been blogging on Miami’s legal issues for many years.